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Detection of Explosives on Airline Passengers: Recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and Related Issues

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Publication Date: April 2007

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS21920

Topic: Transportation (Air transport)


The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission, recommended that Congress and the Transportation Security Administration give priority attention to screening airline passengers for explosives. The key issue for Congress is balancing the costs of mandating passenger explosives trace detection against other aviation security needs. Passenger explosives screening technologies have been under development for several years and are now being deployed in selected airports. Their technical capabilities have not been fully established, and operational and policy issues have not yet been resolved. Critical factors for implementation in airports include reliability, passenger throughput, and passenger privacy concerns. Presuming the successful development and deployment of this technology, certification standards, operational policy, and screening procedures for federal use will need to be established. This topic, which was addressed by Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458), continues to be of congressional interest in the 109th Congress. This report will not be updated.